On Thursday, Jan. 25, four students, Samantha Frazier, Whitney Hunt, Luna Hunt, and Sam Snyder, job-shadowed West Virginia Democratic State Senator Stephen Baldwin for an apprentice day at the Capitol Complex in Charleston.
This is Baldwin’s second apprentice day. In 2015, Baldwin volunteered with the program to show students how to campaign during his run for the House of Delegates. The students traveled from Monroe County and Greenbrier County, which are both represented by Senator Baldwin. Throughout the day, the students learned about government and the job duties of a state senator.
Senator Baldwin represents District 10, which includes the counties of Greenbrier, Monroe, Summers, and Fayette. He has been the lead sponsor of five bills, including funding veterans’ programs and volunteer fire departments. Nearing the end of the apprentice day, Baldwin took a minute to share their experiences. He said, “I’m really honored to have four apprentices with me today learning about state government. This is actually my second time in the apprentice day program. The first time was when I was running for House of Delegates, so the apprentices got to learn about the campaign process. So today is like the next chapter in that book. The four apprentices are learning about governing, which is a very different sort of work than campaigning. So today, they’re reading bills, reading reports from departments of state governments, and forwarding high points to me. Calling constituents, and keeping constituents informed through social media posts.”
Baldwin went on to say, “They’re getting to see a little bit of everything. They’ve met with lobbyists today. They’ve talked with legislators about issues that matter to them. We’ll be going to the committee meeting here in a little while so they can see a bill be worked.
Starting at 10 a.m., Baldwin met the students in his office in the capital building. They started planning out their day. In the first hour, the students researched bills and met Baldwin’s colleagues, including two-term Democratic State Senator Ron Miller. Miller left his seat to take an agricultural role with Governor Jim Justice’s administration. In October 2017, Senator Baldwin was appointed to take Miller’s seat in the 10th District Senate seat. The students also met Andrew Schneider with Fairness WV. Schneider said he was working to recruit supporters to propose the “Employment and Housing Non-Discrimination Act,” in West Virginia. This legislation would prohibit discrimination in hiring and employment on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Schneider told the students, “we want to send a message to the United States that West Virginia is an inclusive and safe place to live and work.”
Democratic WV State Senator Richard Ojeda visited with the students as well. He represents the counties of Boone, Lincoln, Logan, Mingo, and Wayne. An Army veteran, Ojeda is running for Congress this 2018. He told the students that one of his platforms is supporting Net Neutrality and keeping an open internet.
After meeting Baldwin’s colleagues, he took the students to session on the Senate floor. The session was not long. A few bills were sent onto the second or third readings. After session, Baldwin took the students for lunch in the cafeteria. Then it was back to the office to complete a few job duties. He assigned each student a specific task.
Luna researched Greenbrier County’s prison concerns.
Whitney and Luna called constituents who had sent letters of concerns to Senator Baldwin regarding local concerns.
Samantha read two reports from families who are, to this day, having major issues at their homes from the 2016 flood. One West Virginia family, for example, is using an extension cord from a neighbor’s house, to light their house. They also have no plumbing.
Sam managed Senator Baldwin’s social media account.
“I recently participated in an apprenticeship with Senator Baldwin at the Capital, and I would like to thank everyone who made it possible. It was a wonderful experience and helped me to determine my career path for the future!” Sincerely, Luna Martin. Feb. 5, 2018.
Baldwin and the students also discussed current issues such as high-speed internet access in the state. He asked the students if they have internet problems at school and/or home. A few of the students said they do. Luna said, “It’s very slow and difficult to complete school work at my dad’s house, who lives outside of Lewisburg.” They also talked about Net Neutrality and what it means to the future of a free and open internet.
At the final part of the day, Senator Baldwin took the students to the Senate Government Organization Committee’s meeting. Here the members discuss bills relating to state government organizations.
Here is Samantha’s description of her day with Senator Baldwin, “We met Senator Baldwin in his office where we planned out our day. First, we went to session, where Senator Baldwin announced us. Not much debate happened in session. Some bills were sent on to second and third readings, but that was about it. We grabbed some lunch, then headed back to his office for some assignments. He gave us some tasks that he would do in a normal day. For example, we made phone calls to individuals with concerns and we read some stories about flood victims. We even made a video for his Facebook page about internet and net neutrality. Then, we went to a committee meeting. The day was hands down, one of the best job shadowing experiences that I have ever had. Senator Baldwin was very friendly and willing to answer any questions we had.”
We asked Samantha to describe the type of person who can do this job successfully. Also, is this job right for her? Samantha responded with, “The perfect type of person for this job would be someone who cares very deeply about the law and the people they represent. The individual must be patient and willing to listen to the concerns of the people. They must keep the well-being if their people in mind at all times. I think that I would be a perfect fit for this job.”
Asked if she sees herself doing this job when she grows up, Samantha tells us, “I see myself doing this when I’m older because I’m passionate about this kind of work. I think I could do some amazing things.”
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